More declarations of support expected as Fine Gael leadership

Lawrence Kim
May 20, 2017

Fine Gael are planning to hold their Longford Fine Gael selection convention next month after Enda Kenny's successor as party leader is announced.

Prime minister since 2011 and leader of his party for nearly 15 years, Kenny is expected to be replaced by either Social Protection Minister Leo Varadkar, 38, the bookmakers' favorite, or Housing Minister Simon Coveney, 44.

Earlier on Friday Fine Gael leadership challenger Simon Coveney admitted that the momentum is with Mr Varadkar but rejected any suggestion of conceding.

In a statement announcing his retirement as leader, Mr Kenny said it had been a "huge honour and privilege" to steer the party over the course of 15 years.

Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny speaks at a press conference after the European Union summit at the European Union headquarters in Brussels, capital of Belgium on December 9, 2011.

The Minister for Housing, who now has the backing of 20 parliamentary-party colleagues against 39 for Mr Varadkar, said: "I am not naive".

I believe now is a good time for a new Finance Minister to take up office.

He made his decision public at lunchtime today along with a host of other ministers, including Richard Bruton.

While Mr Varadkar is leading in opinion polls, party members, including those in the Oireachtas, see it as a close race between the two Ministers.

Meanwhile, he has declared that he will continue to carry out his duties as party leader and Taoiseach throughout this internal election process.

"He is the most substantial and capable politician of my generation", Mr Donohoe told Newstalk.

It's as there's been a groundswell of support in the west and northwest for Minister Leo Varadkar to succeed Enda Kenny. He was due to step down at midnight to become acting party leader until a successor is chosen.

Since then his Fine Gael-lead coalitions have survived years of political turbulence and mass protests against austerity.

A party leadership contest has officially begun.

This is important as the 73 TDs, senators and MEPs who are members of the parliamentary party have a 65% share of the overall vote with party members having 25% and councillors 10%.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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